Your union newsletter - February 9, 2023

Posted Feb. 9, 2023 by

Black History Month: Remembering and celebrating labor's black history

February is Black History Month. But for labor unions, the celebrations and remembrance of the struggles and triumphs of our black brothers and sisters is constant. This is because the last century's Black history is so deeply intertwined with the struggles of American workers. And for AFSCME and OCSEA, an AFSCME affiliate, that connection is even deeper.

Fifty-five years ago this month, two Memphis sanitation workers, Robert Walker and Echol Cole, were crushed to death when the gears on their truck malfunctioned. In response, their co-workers–1,300 African American men represented by AFSCME Local 1733–went on strike. It was a signature moment in labor history and Black history.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.traveled to Memphis to speak and show his solidarity. It was unheard of for African American public employees in the south to take such fearless collective action. But poverty wages and demeaning working conditions left them no choice. Dr. KIng's visit, sadly, would cost him his life. But, for the union brothers of AFSCME 1733, his tragic loss was not in vain. The strike ended soon after his death, with the sanitation workers securing a raise, recognition of their union and other important concessions.

OOD Chapter 2538 members attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast in Columbus in January. Attendees included chapter activists, above, left to right, Cynthia Lincoln and Sharyn Perry, the chapter's treasurer.

Recently OCSEA members in Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Chapter 2538 wanted to find a way to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the support he'd given union members through his history, "including AFSCME members like us," said Chapter 2538 Vice President Neil Preston.

The Columbus chapter decided to sponsor a table at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast this January, with several members taking advantage of the opportunity to attend the very special event honoring Dr. King's birthday. The chapter hopes to make this sponsorship an annual event, says Neil, to give chapter members a chance to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King on our day off from work. "He is one of my personal heroes, and I was honored to celebrate him at this event," said Neil.

The well-attended event presented several keynote speakers, including Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., Ph.D. from Columbus, who was personally recruited by Dr. King as a 10th grader to attend Morehouse College, MLK’s alma mater. Many years later, Dr. Carter became the Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and is currently a tenured Professor of Religion, College Archivist and Curator at Morehouse College.

This Valentine's Day, have your loved ones say "I love my union worker"

Union workers across this state and across this country are the heart of thriving families. OCSEA union members, like you, work hard every day to provide for your families. Now it's time to show YOU a little love.

Share this "I Love My Union Worker" poster (linked right) with your family members and loved ones. Or maybe there's another union member in your family you want to show some love. Write the union job title (Correction Officer, Highway Technician, Administrative Professional, Plumber e.g.) in the blank provided. There is also a generic "I love my union worker" poster if you don't feel like filling in the blank.

Ask your loved ones to take a photo with you before Valentine's Day. Then post it on social media using the hashtag #ILoveMyUnionWorker. Don't have social media? You can also send a copy of your photos to OCSEA for sharing on our social networks, website and this newsletter. Send those to This is the perfect way to say "I love you" to our hard-working public union members this Valentine's Day.

DOWNLOAD "I love my Union Worker" poster

30 years of the Family Medical Leave Act: Much to celebrate, much more to do

This week we are celebrating 30 years since the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act. The FMLA has extended a lifeline to so many working families. It had been used more than 460 million times, with nearly 15 million people benefitting last year alone. The burden on employers has been negligible—92% of employers report no difficulty complying with FMLA. And yet, not everyone can take advantage—about 44% of the workforce is excluded from FMLA coverage.

"The FMLA was historic for its time," wrote AFSCME International President Lee Saunders this week on the important law which offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for workers to address serious health concerns, care for a newborn, or tend to a sick family member. "It provides job security and continued health insurance during moments in workers’ lives when they need to focus on themselves and their families. It means that so many people don’t have to make a wrenching choice between work and family," said Saunders.

And, AFSCME has been in this fight since the beginning, says Saunders. "AFSCME members kept the heat turned up by writing and calling their legislators to voice their support." Read Pres. Saunder's full blog on the FMLA at

READ MORE: Pres. Saunder's Blog on FMLA

Take action: National paid family leave for all

The FMLA is a stepping stone—but unpaid leave isn’t good enough, says the AFL-CIO. Working people deserve better. No one should have to choose between a paycheck or their health and family.

So labor unions keep fighting—for paid sick leave, for paid parental leave, and for the dignity and respect working families deserve. As we celebrate 30 years of the FMLA, let's take action for progress.Working People Need Paid Leave Now! Tell your member of Congress to support a national paid leave policy!

TAKE ACTION! Support national paid leave.

Stay in the know. Watch agency budget hearings online

Last week, OCSEA activists and leaders watched with interest as Governor Mike DeWine gave his State of the State speech, which broadly outlined his proposals for the State of Ohio budget. That budget will fund state and local government agencies and programs, including staffing, for the next two years.

As we wrote last week, there are still a lot of unknowns regarding how exactly money will be appropriated and where. As we also mentioned, DeWine did indicate that the State is in good financial health.

Stay on top of your agency budget hearings. You can watch budget testimony by committee at The Ohio Channel. Find Finance Committee hearings schedules and testimony HERE. Find the Finance Committee and Transportation Subcommittee hearing schedules and testimony HERE.

OCSEA Minority Conference is scheduled for March 17-18. RSVP now!

In case you missed last week's email, Registration is now open for OCSEA's annual Minority and Community Affairs Committee (CMCA) Conference. It will take place on Saturday, March 18 at The Summit A Dolce Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. All OCSEA members are encouraged to attend and learn how union rights positively impact our minority workers and their communities.

The CMCA Conference registration deadline is March 10. To attend, registration forms and registration fee payment of $125 per OCSEA member must be received by OCSEA by the March 10 deadline. Payment must accompany the completed and returned registration form. Visit to get more information on the conference, including registration form submission, hotel guest information and more.